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Japanese Market Declines

The Japanese stock market is declining on Tuesday following the mixed cues from Wall Street and a stronger yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 120.23 points or 0.53 percent to 22,586.93, off a low of 22,522.28 earlier.

The major exporters are mostly down on a stronger yen. Panasonic is lower by more than 1 percent, Sony is losing 1 percent and Canon is down 0.3 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.6 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 0.1 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is down 0.6 percent and Honda is declining almost 1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is declining almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent after crude oil prices fell overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Nisshin Steel is rising more than 2 percent, Kobe Steel is gaining almost 2 percent and JFE Holdings is adding more than 1 percent.

On the flip side, Sumco Corp. and Nitto Denko are losing almost 4 percent each, while Recruit Holdings is down more than 3 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from Nikkei showed that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in November, albeit at a slower pace, with a PMI score of 51.2.

That's down from the 26-month high of 53.4 in October, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The composite index came in with a score of 52.2, down from 53.4 in October.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 112 yen-range on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Monday as traders reacted to news that Senate Republicans narrowly approved a massive tax reform bill early Saturday morning. The Nasdaq pulled back, partly reflecting concerns that technology companies will not benefit as much from the tax cuts.

The Dow rose 58.46 points or 0.2 percent to a new record closing high of 24,290.05, but the Nasdaq tumbled 72.22 points or 1.1 percent to 6,775.37 and the S&P 500 edged down 2.78 points or 0.1 percent to 2,639.44.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures fell Monday for the first time in three sessions, as a strong dollar dented commodity prices. January WTI oil declined $0.89 or 1.5 percent to settle at $57.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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